Pub Owner Charlie Luxton On Country Life

As the owner of the Beckford Arms, a traditional inn with rural charm in Wiltshire, Charlie Luxton knows a thing or two about creating an environment in which it is pleasant to spend time. Visit in the summer and you can enjoy the sunny terrace and warm walks through the rolling meadows to Fonthill Arch; in winter, settle down by the roaring fire in the living room with a book from the character library. Whatever the season, the Beckford Arms feels like home. It is this comforting but deliberate atmosphere that defines Charlie’s other businesses as the property of the Beckford Group and his neighboring house: a farm that he shares with his wife Chloe, founder of Bramley, his three children, two dogs, a lot of chickens and a few bantams.

Built-in 1699, as the picturesque sign above the door reads, the house was never shy of personality, but it lacked the open space so often associated with modern life. Charlie and Chloe requested a light renovation and made sure not to lose their farmhouse with its rustic charm; they connected the ground floor rooms and added a contemporary extension that leads to the garden, where their beloved chickens roam freely. But Charlie hasn’t always led such a rural life: as a former metropolitan, he uprooted himself from his maisonette in Ladbroke Grove, West London, after falling in love with the lush Wiltshire countryside in 2015. Here he tells us about swapping the urban skyline for pastoral views, his ever-growing collection of oil paintings and antique Cornish furniture, and why he’s a fan of a good dinner rather than a dinner party.

Charlie: “Wiltshire is an extraordinary region. It’s beautifully underdeveloped and underpopulated, but there’s a surprising number of things going on. Messum’s Wiltshire Art Gallery has superb exhibitions among the largest expanse of reeds in the UK, there is the old Wardour Castle, the Pythouse kitchen garden restaurant, as well as Bruton, Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge are all nearby.

“I had finished working as the operations manager of Soho House when a friend from Wiltshire called me and said he had an interesting pub. I had never been to Wiltshire, so I drove through an awesome park – I thought if the pub is near here, it’s a winner. At that moment, I asked myself: What am I doing in London? I was 41, I was married, I had children, and when I saw this pub, everything fell into place. The pub is very beautiful, and the background was beautiful. It wasn’t massively planned, but it was the right thing to do.

“It was in October 2015 when my wife Chloe and I bought the house. Chloe was on time for the visit while I was after; by the time I had chased her to the second floor, I had decided that this was the house for us – fortunately, she was thinking the same thing. At that time, Chloe was seven months pregnant, so we immediately moved in.

“We were immediately attracted to the space. I love the uniformity of the facade of the house. Above the door is a stone on which we can read “1699”, one of my favorite pieces. It also has an acre and a half of land and six strange garages, which are useful for storing bits of pub and all the antiques – I get bored of spending a lot of time looking at auction houses and finding deals.

“Like so many houses, it has grown over time. It had already been inhabited by elderly people for a while and they probably hadn’t done much since the 80s or 90s. We did a slight renovation on it -it has become a much more open and modern lifestyle.

“The house at the back was ruined by a thin, poorly insulated glass walkway from the 1980s that seemed colder inside than outside most of the time. We wanted to quadruple the size of the square space of the building so that the kitchen is connected to the extension, making it a perfect living and dining space with some of the ground floor rooms that feed it.

“We replaced all the carpets and repainted the whole house. We transformed the rather formal dining room into an office, added a partition to turn the living room into a games room and added a garden room by Charlie Luxton Designs with a large sitting and dining area.

“We specified Crittall windows-we had them in Soho House, and I like their continuity. They feel a bit Georgian. We have a five-meter window that overlooks the garden.

“The work lasted three months. The house has been transformed from a working farm into a modern space with connecting rooms, with a significantly improved flow.

“Interiors are one of my passions. A good interior should relax and arouse interest; it should be surprise but calm. I like simplicity. The colors here are generally indisputable, but the art on the walls is bold and interesting, and the furniture is eclectic. I always buy quality items that have something different. We have Georgian oak Windsor chairs, mid-century light fixtures, Berber carpets, 1950s dining chairs and traditional sofas. I don’t really like the colors that fly. I think people bring color into a room and design shouldn’t conflict with that.

“We had art before, but we have bought a lot of it in the last six months. I collect works of art from Cornwall-my family is from Penzance-especially oil paintings, especially works by Jeremy Le Grice. We trawl, we visited several auction houses, and when we go there, we can’t resist a gallery.

“My favorite place in my house is my office. It contains my two beige leather chairs from the 1960s, a Tizio desk lamp and my favorite painting by Peter Haigh. It feels fresh and calm during the day. Decades ago it was the kitchen, so it has a large fireplace and, in the oldest part of the house, extremely thick walls and relatively small windows.

“Whenever possible, I retire to my office, but in general, we live in the new extension that overlooks the garden. Our guys are hiding and watching YouTube and playing on iPads in the living room and doing homework in the game room.

“My life has completely changed since I left London. I bought a car, I have three children, two dogs, a house with a beautiful large garden. We have chickens everywhere-sometimes less when the fox is on the road. These are the most expensive eggs the world has ever seen! We get ex-battery chickens and give them a nice house. I live a completely rural life.”

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